PUNE: A 52-ball 67 from opener Ajinkya Rahane and some quick runs towards the end from captain M S Dhoni, who put on board 23 from 12, helped home side Rising Pune Supergiants set a target of 161 for an in-form Kolkata Knight Riders to chase down at the MCA International Stadium here on Sunday.
Though 150 had seemed out of reach for Pune as Kolkata bowlers ripped through their batting line-up, a late flourish from Dhoni, who added 17 runs in the final over sets a tricky target for the visitors on a turning track at Pune.
Kevin Pietersen's injury meant Dhoni was forced into a change as he brought in Proteas allrounder Albie Morkel while Ishant Sharma, who has been leaking runs too many, was replaced by Jharkhand hard hitter Saurabh Tiwary. KKR's only change saw them replace Manish Pandey, down with chickenpox, with Tamil Nadu allrounder R Sathish.
Gambhir's first bowling change made an instant impact as left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hassan clipped the off stump of Faf du Plessis with a peach of a delivery that pitched on the off and straightened to sent back the in-form South African for four runs. With a partnership in the opening wicket failing to materialise again, the onus was on Rahane and Steve Smith to deliver.
KKR bowlers did well enough to keep the runs on the check during the powerplay overs, but Rahane was playing a slow-burner of an innings. However, the 56-run partnership came to an unfortunate end when Rahane drilled a delivery straight back at bowler Sathish who run out the Australian skipper, who had advanced from the non-striker's end.
Thisara Perera, who almost took the home team to the verge of an unlikely win in their previous game against RCB here, replaced him in the middle but soon departed after he was castled by Sathish while going for a wild slash. That was after Rahane had brought up his 50 from 42 balls at the other end.
As Rahane looked like he was finally shifting through the gears with a six each in the 16th and 17th overs, Sunil Narine caught and bowled the opening batsman with the score at 119. Shortly after, joined by captain Dhoni, Albie Morkel provided some much-needed infusion of runs, but once again KKR made the breakthrough at the right moment -- Umesh Yadav picking up his wicket.
But Dhoni was not going down without a fight and it was the skipper himself who scored 22 runs from the last nine balls, including two fours and six, to take the Supergiants to a respectable total of 160 runs that looked beyond them at one stage of the innings.